tv CNN Newsroom CNN July 6, 2011 1:00pm-3:00pm EDT
"cnn newsroom" continues now with t. j. holmes in for randi ka kaye. we're following the breaking situation suzanne was telling you about a second ago. we have a traffic situation, and it could be much more serious than that. it's in the baltimore area, reports of a man dd described w a long gun, and they have shut down traffic in both directions.
this is an area not far from the baltimore airport, and right now they are searching for the man. not sure of the reports about shots being fired, but they are looking for somebody described as a white male between the ages of 50 and 60 wearing a black and red flannel shirt as well as blue jeans. the police are called out on foot and they have the k-9 yun it, and they are taking this quite seriously. certainly a serious situation because there are questions about who this person might have been or who might be, and what their intentions might be or where they might be at this point. but at this point i do not have any reports of anybody being injured right now. a major highway, 295, certainly important there has been shutdown in both directions, at route 195 as they look for the
possible suspect that was seen with a long shotgun, a long gun, i should say, is how they described it. we're keeping a close eye on that. we're also keeping a close eye on the white house. the president has done a youtube town hall and a facebook town hall, and might as well throw in a twitter town hall. they are holding a twitter town hall, a first of its kind for the president. and this is happening in just about an hour and we're talking about the state of the economy. if you have a question, possibly the president will answer your question. if you have a question about the deficit, and debt ceiling, go ahead and tweet until your heart is content, and use the hash tag, ask obama. and the president will answer some of the questions out there. he will not be limited to 140 characters. there will have somebody that
will tweet answers out at 140 characters, is and so the president will be speaking so will not be limited in your questions. you will see it live here on cnn. the back drop of the twitter town hall on the economy, of course, is the standoff with republicans and congress over the authority to keep borrowing money. america can tap dance for another 27 days but then may have to default for the first time. the republicans say they will not raise the ceiling without equally sized cuts, and the president wants tax breaks and plugging loopholes. this is what he said yesterday. >> it's my hope everybody will leave their ultimatums at the door and we'll all leave the political rhetoric at the door and we will do what is best for the economy and what is best for
the people. >> political rhettic. the talks have not come to much. congressional leaders are due to head back to the white house tomorrow. here's where they stand, at least, today. >> will we be the kind of company that sacrifices seniors and the middle class? that's the american my colleagues from proposed, and those priorities are simply backwards. democrats, on the other hand, believe in a nation where half the country's wealth is controlled by probably less than 1% of its people. that perhaps 1% should not be exempt and asking sacrifices from everybody else. >> and we're talking about a debt crisis, and we would do something to reduce the debt. with so many still out of work we expect the president to not insist on proposals that only his administration says will put
even more people on the unemployment line. we're eager to meet with the president if he is really willing to do something big for the country. >> all right. again, it's ask obama. that's the hash tag you are supposed to use. these tweets, thousands and thousands of them are pouring in. it gets going in an hour. these are all you are seeing in real time behind me right now. again, the president responding to your questions, and one coming in on twitter at his twitter town hall at the top of the next hour. this hour's sound affect is the first victory of the 2018 winter olympics. the decision on where to hold them. >> the international olympic committee has the honor of announcing that the winter olympic games in 2018 are awarded to the city of --
pyengchang. >> well, after losing the 2010 games and the 2014 games to russia, and they pulled ahead to play post to the 2018 games. south korea never hosted a winter olympics. and seoul had the games in '88. other stories we're keeping a close eye on. a facebook event that is expected at any moment and expected to be awesome. room nuumors have been swirlinge internet, to a video chat service, directly integrated with facebook. interestingly enough, the event comes a week after google
unveiled it's social networking try. they called it google plus. would you believe that's the site where mark zuckerberg right now is the most popular person on that news site. and turning to new york where sources say attorneys for dominique strauss-kahn are set to meet with prosecutors in the sexual assault case. the meeting comes days after it was revealed there were credibility issues of the woman accusing him of assault. the manhattan district attorney says prosecutors are not ready to drop the charges. a u.s. army general has approved a possible death penalty in the trial of nidal malik hasan. you will recall 13 people killed and 32 people injured.
also, this is certainly a case. look at this. cover your eyes. this was the scene yesterday in mesa, arizona. this is the kind of dust storm here that is generally over desert land and can reach thousands of feet high. at one point, it stretched wider than 30 miles. it was so bad the faa ordered a ground stop of more than an hour at phoenix sky harbor airport. storms can uproot trees and damage power lines and cause severe structural damage. just hours after casey anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter, crowds began to flock to her central florida home. dozens of patrol cars lined the house while deputies on horse back and atvs were on hand for
crowd control. a number of them expressing displeasure. some neighbors say they hope casey would not return to the neighborhood. that verdict, as we know, stunned a lot of people, analysts and followers of the trial. up next, understanding how casey anthony could walk away a free woman tomorrow. also, the new effort to find out who those 12 jurors are. we spend them on treadmills. we spend them in traffic. and if we get lucky, really lucky, it dawns on us to go spend them in a world where a simple sunrise can still be magic. twenty-five thousand mornings. make sure some of them are pure michigan. your trip begins at michigan.org.
>> that was the stunning conclusion after three long years of waiting, investigations and courtroom drama. casey anthony, who, of course, is the prime suspect of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter will likely walk away a free woman tomorrow, despite harsh criticism of her defense team. at the end of the day, casey anthony was not found gimty of murder, child abuse or manslaughter. the only thing clear to the jury was that anthony lied to the investigators. this verdict is still sending shock waves through the country and shocked some of the most seasoned lawyers out there. the question is what led the jury to their decision? all the jurors are refusing to talk at this point, but we're getting insight from an alternate juror who did not play a part in deciding the verdict, but what he says maybe is still telling. >> i agreed with it wholeheartedly. it was the right decision that was made. the prosecution did not meet the
burden of proof. we had a lot of reasonable doubt there. it doesn't show us the evidence good enough for a conviction. >> let me turn to a woman who has cried criminal cases as a prosecutor and a public defender. it's so good for you to be with us. help the public to understand, meaning the people outraged right now saying how in the world could the juror have gotten this wrong, and help the jury to understand how they could be wrong in this case. seems like everybody could convict her and they did have access to the trial so how is the public so different in their opinion from the jurors? >> well, i think the public probably didn't sit and watch the case day in and day out like the juror was forced to, because they are a captive audience. what everybody needs to understand is there are two things the criminal prosecution has got to prove in every single
criminal case, and that's number one that a crime was committed, and number two that the defendant is the person that committed the crime. they have got to prove that beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. if you watch this case or know anything about it, i mean the case was racked with reasonable doubt. the prosecution, i think, did a very valuant job in trying to present its case, but it is not a surprise to me or anybody that i know here in tampa that the jury came back the way they did. >> we talk about this thing, reasonable doubt, all the time. you can have -- help explain that just a little bit more as well. reasonable doubt, you can have some doubt, but then reasonable doubt is different than having some doubt, right? >> well, what the jury got instructed on, was a reasonable doubt is not a imaginary doubt or possible doubt or speculative doubt. a reasonable doubt is a doubt that rises based on the
evidence, and it creates in you whether an abiding conviction of guilt, when a prosecution has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt, it's given the juryly an abiding conviction of guilt. it's a pretty strong and high burden for the prosecution to have to make. >> and a lot of people will tell you as well, it should be. we are hearing from the prosecutor, jeff ashton. i believe we heard from him this morning. we will listen to him and come back and talk about the job the prosecution did. >> i cannot believe that's what happened. but again, beyond a reasonable doubt is a high standard. the jurors may have thought, as i do, but beyond a reasonable doubt is a high standard. i respect the fact that they, you know, applied the law to the case as they saw it.
>> now, did he just have the odds stacked against him quite frankly from the beginning? you have to prove that a crime was committed and the defendant committed that crime. well, it wasn't necessarily clear that a crime was committed. so people also argue that the case was over charged. so kind of was the deck stacked against the prosecution from the very beginning? >> sure. but they wear their big boy and big girl pants, and they made a decision to bring the prosecution. they put their best effort forward. that sometimes happens. as a prosecutor, you believe you have a good-faith basis, and it's for the community to short through that and decide whether or not you did or didn't. i couldn't agree with the prosecutor more with what he said. i am a grandma and a mom, and there's nothing about casey anthony that i like. but liking her doesn't equal proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
>> something you just mentioned, too, those 12 citizens sitting in there. they decided they did not want to speak to the media afterwards. who knows in the days or weeks or even months down the road if they come out and start doing interviews. but now there are some media out let's that have gone and filed a motion to have the jurors names released. the judge in this case did not release their names and said they would not be released. what happens in a case like this? does the media have a right to this information from the jurors? can this be a situation where there is safety concerns maybe even in this case that would lead the judge to still not release those names? >> it will be interesting to see what the judge does. i do agree that there's probably some safety concerns, especially considering the amount of police that they put outside of the anthony home to protect them. and so if i were a juror, i would be concerned about that. and, you know, the balancing act that takes place between the public's right to know and that,
the judge will play it out and the press can take it up on appeal. as far as -- i'm sure as you well know, somebody will get offered money and will decide to divulge what went on in the juror room. hate to be a cynic -- >> no, you're not being a cynic. people are also waiting to see if casey anthony will make a buck. >> i will be surprised if mtv doesn't give her a reality show. >> and people will watch it in all likelihood. >> nice talking to you. >> we're at 18 minutes past the hour. the banks out there are counting on a new way to increase revenue. wait until you see how this will affect you. that's ahead in "your money." stay with us.
it 20 minutes past the hour. this headline just in. maryland state police looking for an armed gunman right now. described as a white male between the ages of 50 and 60s wearing a black and white flannel shirt with blue jeans. this person was spotted with a long gun. it could be a shotgun or rifle. they're searching in the area of i-95 in the baltimore area. route 195. and there are reports that shots were fired at cars on the road. so the highway has been shut down in both directions in this area. this whole scene has been going on for about the past two hours now. the first calls came in around
11:30 a.m. eastern time. it's a story to keep a close eye on. jury collection for the roger clemens jury trial now under way. he is accused of lying to congress in 2008 when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. the counsel to the house of representtives say recording can be released by a resolution of the house of representatives. and "whitey" bulger to be arraigned today. he was part of a south boston irish gang before he fled a racketeering indictment. and ten members of the afghan parliament boycotted the
chamber after a fight that broke out between two female members. this is the video of it. one woman throws a shoe, and then another throws a plastic water baumgts and then that broke loose. it happened when karzai supporters started yelling at each other over the issue of pakistani attacks. one group wanted to call karzai in to speak on the issue. turning to your money now. the big banks have found another way to cash in on you. alison kosik is joining me now. they always find a new and creative way to get more money out of us. >> you took the words out of my mouth. it doesn't mean any fees for you, and instead some of the biggest banks and some of the credit card issuers will sell your stuff to retailers. banks are trying to find new
ways to make money. what the bank does is it atracks what your shopping habits are, and what you buy and where you shop, and then send that information to companies, and let's say you go to nordstrom's and buy shoes, you may get a coupon for shoes at rivalry tailers. when you use that coupon, the retailer pays the bank a fee. it opens up a huge possibility for banks. they could take in $1.7 billion a year, t. j. >> a lot of the banks? >> wells fargo, citi, sovereign bank and visa. one bank that has 5 million credit card holders will be involved in it, and you can opt out. and these banks, they are
looking for new ways to make money, and this is a great way for them to make money. >> we heard that phone companies, the smart phones, these companies are getting rid of the unlimited data plans now. who else is jumping on this bandwagon? >> verizon is getting rid of all of the -- whatever calls all you can eat data plans. it goes for $30. starting tomorrow they will do away with that. new customers that have a smart phone can pick from three a la cart plans. two gigs for $30 a month, and this is not new, and verizon is entering the frey. at&t mobile already this did. the fact is we're using more data, and sending pictures and have e-mail and streaming video, and these phone companies, they want to cash in on it, because it's a huge money maker. but what is interesting here, t. j., we don't know what a gig is,
news of the world is widening. the father of a victim of a 2005 london terror attack says his son's phone may have been hacked by a private investigator working for the sunday tabloid. they are calling on news international to come clean about what happened. police are looking at claims that news of the world target politicians and victims and celebrities. many call the allegations deplorable and unacceptable. british actor, hugh grant, says he was hacked by the news of the world and he says police interviewed him about the case. our richard quest interviewed him as well. richard, good to see you as always. we know these individual cases, it sounds like it was widespread and systematic over there.
>> oh, that's putting it mildly. this was hacking on an industrial scale. look, to viewers that may not be familiar. this is the publication i am talking about. it's the news of the world. now, statistically, it's the highest selling english-speaking sunday newspaper in the world. it's the usual sunday bit of gossip and scandals and notions. however, what they engaged in over the previous eight or nine years in the early part of the century at least, was a systematic phone hacking of celebrities and stars, and now it appears even victims of bomb blasts, parents of murdered children, and so on. the advertisers have already started to with draw their advertising, and some like ford said they are pulling out immediately. but hugh grant, the actor, has really come out on his own and
basically gone on the war path against the news of the world. and i asked him why, when you have the advertisers and the government, why he became such an unlikely spokesman for the campaign against them? >> rather like the government, they're hoping to kick the whole thing slightly into the grass and maybe another big news event will come up and the brush will die down, and that's why it's the job of unlikely people like me to keep the pressure up because it's not coming from the government or the opposition skurming with them, because they like to have a relationship with murdoch as well. and so it's left to a few unlikely souls like myself. >> hugh grant with a checkered past himself in the past years, he recognizes he could be making himself a target for more abuse and investigation by the
tabloids, but his policy is pretty much this. somebody has to stand up and be counted, and that's why he says it's him. and just to put this into context, this is really taking not only the british by storm, but the murdoch media empire. if you think that doesn't affect anybody else, keep in mind murdoch owns the wall street journal, and fox, and the fox network, fox news channel, the fox television network, and not just in the united states, and this is a story maybe not of hacking in other places, but certainly one that goes to the heart of the murdoch campaign. >> good way to give us perspective, not just a story happening over there. thank you very much. space shuttle "atlantis" expected to liftoff on friday, but mother nature might have other plans. we will tell you all about the mission's cloudy future. !e!e!e!e
flannel jeans, and this person was reported of standing along the highway with a long gun. they had to shut down the highway in this particular area. at one point police shut down the highway in both directions because there were reports of shots being fired at vehicles. this is a situation that has been going on for the past couple of hours when the first calls started coming in, but we are report no injuries at this point. but the search goes on for a man spotted with a gun. also, something we're expecting in the next 25 minutes or so something happening live in the east room at the white house where the president will be answering questions in a town hall, but this is not just any town hall meeting, it's his first ever twitter town hall. the president is going to be answering questions that you send in on twitter. people have been asked to send these in for the past day or so
now. thousands have come in. you can still send them now, by the way, and just include the hash tag, ask obama. and the white house sees this as an opportunity for the president to engage with americans. the president will be verbally answering the questions, so he will not be limited to 140 characters as he speaks. you will see it live here on cnn. the obama had minute administration is reversing a long-standing white house policy and will start to send condolence members to families of service members who commit suicide. this move comes six weeks after a group of senators ask president obama to change what they called an insensitive policy. a senior administration official says the president hopes the policy change will help to de-sigmatize the affects of war
in the future. bad news for nasa and the space shuttle crew. now there is only a 30% chance of favorable weather on tfriday for the scheduled liftoff time. this forecast is down from a 40% chance of favorable weather reported yesterday. new clues on what may cause autism. up next, we have two important new studios to look at. [ female announcer ] the healing power of touch
put the findings in perspective. why these two studies? why these two? there are always studies about autism. why these two? >> there were all these theories about vaccines and autism, and that has been debunked, and researchers are moving on to find out what does cause autism. there has been a study about genes, and perhaps it's not just genes, they found other factors, outside factors that may influence whether a kid gets autism. for instance, air pollution. they may have influence. parental age, the age the parents are at the time of conception, and the birth of the child, three areas researchers should take a closer look at. >> and children whose mothers were on anti-depressants.
>> yeah, i tread carefully on this ground. what they did is they looked at 300 children with autism, and found 7% of those kids, the mothers were taking ssris, which are anti-depressants during pregnancy, and they thought the number seemed a little high. this is some suggestion that there's a link between the anti-depressants. we would hate for women to go off anti-depressants while pregnant, and they serve a purpose and -- >> how common are they? >> one of the most commonly described drugs in the country, and they need them and you don't want them to go off of them. this is one study and a relatively small study. >> now, what can you really do to try and limit the risks of autism? do we know? >> all you can do is look for the signs of autism, and you can catch it earlier. catching it earlier does help. a couple red flags, if your
child does not respond to their name or they have difficulty forming conversations or sort of repetitive movements, if your child should be talking and should be engaging and they are not, talk to your pediatrician, and you can go to c cnn.com/empoweredpatient. when you hear of cheating in schools, you think of students, right, cheating on tests? but the investigation of the atlanta school system uncovered widespread cheating by the principals and teachers, and it goes back ten years, and hear how it could land somebody in jail. at&twould deliver our next generation mobile broadband experience to 55 million more americans, many in small towns and rural communities, giving them a new choice. we'll deliver better service, with thousands of new cell sites... for greater access to all the things you want, whenever you want them. it's the at&t network...
all right. turns out it was all a lie according to a state investigation. as many as 178 teachers and principals, and nearly 50 schools in atlanta were involved in perhaps the largest cheating scandal in u.s. history. schools were nationally recognized for students that mastered state tests. now this report says teachers, administrators were helping students cheat on the standa standardized tests. this has been going on for ten years now. and let me bring in the guy reporting on this. did the kids have any idea?
the teachers were doing it for their own benefit, right? >> yeah, we were talking about this, the sad part of the story that they have children who moved on into elementary school into middle schools and told they did excellent on the tests and some of the kids cannot read. this is the horrible downside -- >> so some of the kids did not realize they needed help, so they maybe should have been held back or could have got a tutor -- >> yeah, and their parents had no idea. they are getting reports saying your kid is doing great. >> are we talking that somebody can really go to jail over this? >> yes, this report and it's hundreds pages long, and it's a year-long investigation done by the governor's office in georgia, and over multiple administrations, and started with the previous administration, and it has been turned over to the district
attorneys in three counties in the atlanta area. there are questions of fraud. if you took a test and erased answers and put in new answers and passed that along to the state and that is committing fraud. there are a lot of officials that could be facing criminal prosecution. >> this has been going on a long, long time it sounds like. how do they keep this from happening in the future? >> according to the report, it's dating back ten years. that's why you heard the interim superintendent, and everybody knew this report was coming out at some point. they were very frank about what they did to these children. >> we have cheated students. this angers us all. it is hard for us to quantify and often express that anger. >> here's the fascinating thing about it. the woman who was in charge, the superintendent, a woman by the
name of beverly hall, she was in charge of the district for ten years, and in 2009 she was named superintendent of the year. imagine her entire tenure, her sbin time in atlanta has come under the cloud now. and i have been talk to school officials, and you ask how you rectify what has happened, and so far they are just trying to process all the information that has been given to them. the school year starts shortly, and they have a bunch of teachers they need to fire, so all of this needs to be done before the school year starts. >> and we will leave it here. again, this was all done because the teachers and the principals were under pressure, i guess you could say, to make sure -- >> that's a nationwide issue. you have questions of standardized testing and the pressure of teachers to get the kids to perform well, and sometimes it's monetary incentive, and sometimes when you do that you invite this kind of behavior. >> thank you.
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what we're talking about here could be a model for us here in the u.s. as well. this is a grown-breaking project, it was unveiled in belgium where a high-speed train traveled from antwerp to an ste amsterdam, about 80 miles, powered by solar energy. what makes this ground breaking is the source of that solar energy. the train was getting its electricity from a one of a kind solar tunnel. now, the tunnel is about 2.2 miles long. now, more than 16,000 solar panels were installed along the tunnel's roof. that's about eight soccer fields' worth of solar panels here. that alone is enough to power 4,000 trains or 1,000 homes in europe. now, heading up this project is solar developer infinity, and infinity's cno joins now from belgium via skype.
i hope i explained that fairly well, how this thing actually works. you help me with the tunnel part of this. how does that part of it work? how do you get the energy from this tunnel you built to power the train? >> okay, well, typically what we do, we develop the solar installations on many rooftops, generally because rooftops are idle space that are unused and it allows us to connect the electricity producing system directly into the electricity system of the people that live around the roof. in this case, it is the belgium infrastructure railway system and those people use the electricity directly to power that train going through that tunnel up to amsterdam, as well as part of the station at antwerp. >> now, how far could that train go? we talked about an 80-mile trip here, again, it traveled through the tunnel, went about 80 miles, but how far could it have gone? >> well, it will all depend on
the amount of sunshine we have? this is a compliment to other sources of electricity. but it basically depends on the size of the installation. if we would complete the tunnel and build a larger system, it could power the train for many, many miles more. of course, we needles other sources of electricity to travel at night or days when it's more rainy and less sunshine. but there's no limit, really, to what you can do with this concept. >> now, this was a two-mile tunnel here. i guess how practical is that to build these types of tunnels? i assume it has a lot to do with the terrain and geography of a particular area. but is it practical to put these tunnels and to have two miles of them around, that we could use this as a more practical application for our everyday travel? >> right, the tunnel is there for security reasons and ecological reasons to protect
the environment. we use it as an opportunity to put the solar system in, the roof is completely unused, it's not visible to the outside, so it's a great space to use to produce electricity, because nobody's bothered by it and it's very optimal. >> steven, help me understand -- okay, tell me how pricey this thing is. >> well, it's about $22 million for installation. of course, you have to take into account, for solar, you have the entire investment up front, because understand you have it, you have electricity produced with no consumption of fuel or coal, no impact on the ecology or environment. it's basically from there free electricity. >> all right. last thing here, steven, what do we do next now that you've had this successful test run, if you will? what do you do with this technology from now and where do we move from here? >> i think this technology is i. there are a tremendous amount of buildings out there with rooftops that we've put our system in the last years, and we
continue to put them on and we basically power the people under the rooftop, which is production facilities or private houses, and that's a great use of production of electricity straight into use, you don't have to use the grid or transport, it's optimal. >> steven, interesting stuff, we'll see what happens to it down the road. but thanks for joining us on skype from belgium today. thanks so much. for more on the solar train, you can check out randi kaye's facebook page at randi kaye cnn. well, a familiar name remains at the top of the polls in new hampshire. we'll take a look at new gop polling. that is next. ♪ [ male announcer ] what is the future of fuel? the debate is over. ♪ lexus hybrid drive technology
let's give you a political update right now, and for that, let's say hello to cnn's jim acosta joining me from washington. jim, how you doing, sir? >> hey, t.j. you would think it's a little early for the rnc and dnc to be putting tv ads out there, attacking the the president or the various republican presidential candidates, but you would be wrong to think that, t.j. the rnc has already come out with an ad targeting president obama. this is going to run on tv. it's going to run on cable
stations, and it's going to run more importantly, in important battleground states all over the country. and it has something to do with the argument that the rnc, the republicans are making about the president's policy, saying that he is taking the country on a left-hand turn path, you could say. here's a little bit of the clip of the ad that we have to show you. >> he promised to change direction. $800 billion in stimulus. trillions for government health care. 2 million jobs, gone. left turn after left turn. america's headed the wrong way fast. 6 million foreclosures, $14 trillion in debt it shall >> and if you keep watching that ad, in the very end, there's a car crash, a car that actually goes off a cliff. not too subtle there with the ad from the rnc. you do have to kind of hand it to them, t.j., for using some 1970s action show footage there at the very tail end of that ad.
and the republicans are going after the president pretty hard right now for good reason. obviously, they want to win in 2012. and at this point, they don't have a contender o to get behind, but it's sure looking like they might have one in short order, if this new poll is any indication. let's show you this poll that just came out of new hampshire today. this is a wmur poll of voters up in new hampshire, who republicans would like to see. mitt romney on top by a healthy margin. take a look at that, t.j. 35%, the nearest contender after mitt romney, michele bachmann with 12%. that's why right now republicans see mitt romney as a strong front-runner in this battle for the gop nomination. >> jim acosta, we appreciate you, as always. thank you so much, kind sir. and we're crossing the top of the hour here now on cnn. well, your two cents on the economy, in 140 characters or
fewer. a live picture you're seeing right now at the white house where the president is about to hold his first ever, yes, twitter town hall. he will be answering tweets from you in the white house east room. and after watching these things pour in all morning, we can tell you they make their traditional news conference look like a lovefest, quite frankly. it's not too late to weigh in on the deficit, the debt ceiling, taxes, spending, unemployment, but the president will be stepping up in just a moment. expected to happen right now, to see this town hall on the economy. he's focused a lot on social networking, but here is the first twitter town hall. there's said to be less than four weeks away from a potential historic default on some of the nation's obligations. that's kind of the backdrop for this whole thing. this town hall was supposed to be about the economy. you can still send in questions about the economy. include them on twitter with the
hash tag "ask obama." republicans say they won't support more borrowing without equally size, spending cuts. negotiations due to resume tomorrow at the white house. in the meantime, and we are waiting for the president to step in to start this town hall, let's bring in my colleague, dan lothian. dan, hello to you, kind sir. this is interesting the president going at it like this, we need to explain, even though the questions are coming in at 140 characters or fewer, the president's responses, he'll be giving them verbally, so they'll be a little longer. >> that's right. the president will not be typing out any answers at all, at least according to the white house. he'll be answering in the old-fashioned way, using a microphone. i'm sure it will be much, much more than 140 characters. as you pointed out, the president has been doing these kind of things. this is the first twitter town hall, but he's done this with facebook and also done it with
youtube and what this allows the president to do is answer questions in a controlled environment, focused on just the economy and jobs. in fact, the white house says he won't entertain any questions outside of that subject matter. but he also reaches out to an audience that skews to younger voters. and as you know, t.j., those young voters helped get the president-elected and it's a critical group that will help him get re-elected in 2012. >> okay, we know, and you've been to presidential press conferences, and the questions y'all ask out there. you're certainly respectful of the audience, you're tame, it's the president. well, anything goes on twitter. it can be harsh out there in the twitt twitterverse. they're picking and choosing which questions get through. and not the white house, but twitter, the ones that are actually picking the questions.
>> reporter: that's right. twitter will be in charge of handling those questions. some of these questions they have preselected. questions that have been sent in already. others, we are told, will be picked in realtime. i should point out, what's interesting is that republicans have already jumped all over this event led by speaker boehner who was encouraging republicans to get on this twitter feed they had, a live feed, to ask the president their own questions using that "ask obama" hash tag, and already you're seeing things from the rnc, asking, where are the jobs? i'm not certain that those questions from republicans in that matter will make it into the president's lineup, but you never know. >> i guess they could just call the president too if they have a question. it looks like they might be getting this thing underway here in just a second. but help our audience, since i still have you here. and to our audience, you still can get questions in. like dan just said, they have already preselected some, but they'll take some in realtime. if you're on twitter, you can
send a question in. we'll show this to you live as they get under way in just a second. but dan, the audience, does he certainly feel like and should we take this as an indication that the president understands, these young folks, he'll have fire them up again next year if he is to win re-election. >> reporter: look, i think that the white house really understands that. we did a story earlier this year about how some young people felt like the white house really had not continued to reach out to them, had not sort of paid them back for all of the efforts that thaw extended during the 2008 campaign. we talked to someone from rock the vote and said they felt like, one example was, they went out, they were dating someone, and then all of a sudden that person disappeared and now comes back into their lives and says, hey, let's pick up where we left off. they are not completely happy with the president, but also, they're not ready to abandon them. at least, that's the way she explained to it me. this is a critical group,
pointing out that the younger votes helped get the president-elected. this white house understands that, the president understands that. so this is a key group they want to woo ahead of the 2012 elections. >> as you're talking there, dan, it looks like the president is probably entering the room. you're looking at a live picture of the east room of the white house right now where the president is about to have a town hall meeting. not just any town hall. they are calling this a twitter town hall. the president taking questions from twitter. he will be answering them verbally. they will be responding online as well, on twitter, in 140 characters, you know, shorter versions of his verbal answers. let's listen in to the president as they get this thing started. >> i am going to make history here as the first president to live tweet. so we've got a computer over here. all right.
>> it's only 140 characters. >> all right. i think i have done this properly, but here's the test. >> and you tweeted. >> how about that? not bad. thank you. so i think my question will be coming up at some point. >> yes. so what was your question? here it is. >> here's the question. in order to reduce the deficit, what costs would you cut and what investments would you keep? and the reason i thought this was an important question is, as all of you know, we are going
through a spirited debate here in washington, but it's important to get the whole country involved, in making a determination about what are the programs that can help us grow, can create jobs, can improve our education system, maintain our clear air and clean water, and what are those things that are a waste that we shouldn't be investing in, because they're not helping us grow or create jobs or creating new businesses. and that debate is going to be heating up over the next couple of weeks, so i would love to hear from the american people, see what thoughts they have. >> excellent. well, our first question comes from a curator in new hampshire, and we have eight curators around the country helping us pick tweets from the crowd, so that we can read them to the president. and this one comes from william smith. "what mistakes have you made in handling this recession and what would you do differently?" >> you know, that's a terrific question.
when i first came into office, we were facing the worst recession since the great depression. so looking around this room, it's a pretty young room, it's certainly the worst recession we've faced in our lifetime. so we had to act quickly and make some bold and sometimes difficult decisions. it was absolutely the right thing to do to put forward a recovery act that cut taxes for middle class folks so they had more money in their pocket to get through the recession. it was the right thing to do to provide assistance to states to make sure they didn't have to lay off teachers and cops and firefighters as quickly as they needed to. and it was right thing to do to try to rebuild our infrastructure and put people back to work building roads and bridges and so forth. it also was the right thing to do, although a tough decision, to save the auto industry, which is now profitable. and gaining market share, the u.s. auto industry, for the first time in a very long time. i think that probably two things that i would do differently, one
would have been to explain to the american people that it was going to take a while for us to get out of this. i think even i did not realize the magnitude, because most economists didn't realize the magnitude of the recession, until fairly far into it, maybe two or three months into my presidency, where we started realizing that we had lost $4 million jobs before i was even sworn in. so i think people may not have been prepared for how long this was going to take and why we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions and choices. and i attention responsibility for that, because, you know, setting people's expectations is part of how you end up being able to respond well. the other area is in the area of housing. i think that the continuing decline in the housing market is is something that hasn't bottomed out as quickly as we expected. so that's continued to be a big drag on the economy.
we've had to revamp our housing program several times to try to help people stay in their homes and try to start lifting home values up, but of all the things we've done, that's probably been the area that's been most stubborn to us trying to solve the problem. >> mr. president, 27% of our questions are in the jobs category, as you can see from the screen over here. our next question has to do about jobs and technology. it comes from david, tech and technology industries are thriving, yet jobs discussion always centers on manufacturing. why not be realistic about jobs? >> well, it's not an either/or question, it's a both/and question. we have to be successful at the cutting edge industries of the future like twitter. but we also have always been a country that makes stuff. and manufacturing jobs end up having both higher wages
typically and they also have bigger multiplier effects. so one manufacturing jobs can support a range of other jobs. suppliers and the restaurant near the plant, and so forth. so they end up having a substantial impact on the overall economy. what we want to focus on is advanced manufacturing that combines new technology. so research and development to figure out how are we going to create the next twitter, how are we going to create the next google, how are we going to create the next big thing? but make sure that production is here. so it's great that we have an apple that's creating ipods and ipads and designing them and creating the software, but it would be nice if we were also making the ipads and the ipods here in the united states, because that's some more jobs that people can work at. and there are going to be a series of decisions that we've got to make. number one, are we investing in research and development in order to emphasize technology?
and a lot of that has to come from government. that's how the internet got formed, that's how gps got formed. companies on their own can't always finance the basic research, because they can bn't assured that they're going to get a return on it. number two, we have to drastically improve how we train our workforce and our kids around math and science and technology. number three, we've got to have a top-notch infrastructure to support advanced manufacturing. and we've got to look at sectors where we know this is going to be the future. something like clean energy, for example. for us not to be the leaders in investing in clean energy manufacturing so that wind turbines and solar panels are not only designed here in the united states, but made here in the united states makes absolutely no sense. we've got to invest in those areas for us to be successful. so you can combine high-tech with manufacturing and then you get the best of all worlds. >> you mentioned education. there's a lot of questions coming about education and its
impact on the economy. this one in particular is from a curator who is pulling from a student in ohio named dustin. >> we've already done something that's very significant and people may not know. as part of a higher education package that we passed last year, what we were able to do was to take away subsidies that were going to banks for serving as middle men in the student loan program, and funnel that to help young people through pell grants and lower rates on student loans, and so there are millions of students who are getting more affordable student loans and grants as a consequence of the steps that we've already taken. this is about tens of billions of dollars worth additional federal dollars that were going to banks, that are now going to
students, directly. in addition, what we've said is that starting in 2013, young people who are going to college will not have to pay more than 10% of their income in repayment. and that, obviously, helps to relieve the burden on a lot of students, because, look, i'm a guy who had about $60,000 worth of debt when i graduated from law school and michelle had $60,000, so we were paying a bigger amount every month than our mortgage. and we did that for eight, ten years. so i know how burdensome this can be. i do think that the universities still have a role in trying to keep their costs down. and i think it's important, even if we've got better student loan programs, more grants, if the costs keep on going up, then we'll never have enough money, you'll never get enough help to avoid taking on these huge debts. so working with university
presidents to try to figure out where can you can cut costs, of course, it may mean that, you know, the food in the cafeteria is a little worse and the gym's not as fancy, but i think all of us have to figure out a way to make sure that higher education is accessible for everybody. one last point. i know on twitter i'm supposed to be short, but city -- community colleges is a huge underutilized resource where what we want to do is set up a life-long learning system where you may have gotten your four-year degree, but five years out, you decide you want to go into another field or you want to brush up on new technologies that are going to help you advance. we need to create a system where you can conveniently access community colleges that are working with businesses to train for the jobs that actually exist. that's a huge area where i think we can make a lot of progress. >> you mention debt a lot. that's come up in conversation a
lot recently, especially in some of our recent questions. specifically the debt ceiling. and this is formulated in our next question from renegade nerd out of atlanta, "mr. president, will you issue an executive order to raise the debt ceiling pursuant to section 4 of the fifth amendment?" >> can i just say, renegade nerd, that picture captures it all there. he's got his hand over there, he's looking kind of confused. let me, as quickly as i can, describe what's at stake with respect to the debt ceiling. historically, the united states, whatever it has a deficit, it finances that deficit through the sale of treasuries. and this is a very common practice, with over our lifetimes, typically the government's always running a
modest deficit. and congress is supposed to vote on the amount of debt that treasury can essentially issue. it's a pretty esoteric piece of business. typically has not been something that created a lot of controversy. what's happening now is that congress is suggesting that we may not vote to raise the debt ceiling. if we do not, then the treasury will run out of money. it will not be able to pay the bills that are owing and potentially the entire world capital markets could decide, you know what? the full faith and credit of the united states doesn't mean anything. so our credit could be downgrades, interest rates could go drastically up, and it could cause a whole new spiral into a second recession or worse.
so that is something that we shouldn't be toying with. what dexter's question referred to is there are some people who say that under the constitution, it's unconstitutional for congress not to allow treasury to pay its bills and are suggesting that this should be challenged under the constitution. i don't think we should even get to the constitutional issue. congress has a responsibility to make sure we pay our bills. we've always paid them in the past. the notion that the u.s. is going to default on its debt is just irresponsible. and my expectation is that over the next week to two weeks, that congress working with the white house comes up with a deal that solves our deficit, solves our debt problems, and makes sure that our full faith and credit is protected. >> back to jobs. we have a question from new york
city about immigrant entrepreneurs. "immigrant entrepreneurs can build companies and create jobs for u.s. workerworkers. will you support a start-up visa program?" >> what i want to do is make sure that talented people that come to this country to study, to get degrees and are willing and interested in starting up businesses can do so as opposed to going back home and starting up those businesses there to compete against the united states and take away jobs. so we're working with the business community as well as the entrepreneurial community to figure out, are there ways we can streamline the visa system, so if you are studying here, you've got a ph.d in computer science or a ph.d in engineering and you say, i'm ready to invest in the united states, create jobs in the united states, then
we are table to say to you, we want to you to stay here. and i think it's possible for us to deal with this problem, but it's important for us to look at it more broadly. we've got an immigration system that's broken right now, where too many folks are breaking the law, but also our laws make it too hard for talent people to contribute and be part of our society. we've always been a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. so we need comprehensive immigration reform, part of which would allow entrepreneurs and high-skill individuals to stay here, because we want to be attracting that talent here. we don't want to pay for training them here and then having them benefit in other countries. >> our next question was just sent just an hour ago and focuses on energy. "will you focus on promoting alternative energy industries in oil states like louisiana and texas?"
>> i want to promote alternative energy sources every, including louisiana and texas. this is something i'm very proud and doesn't get a lot of attention. we made the largest investment in our history in the clean energy act. we put forth a range of programs that provided credits to companies like providing wind turbines, solar panels. a great example is advanced battery manufacturing. when i came into office, advanced batteries which are used for, for example, in electric cars, we only accounted for 2% of the world market in advanced batteries. and we have quintupled our market share or even gone further, just over the last two years, and we're projected that we can get to 30 to 40% of that market. that's creating jobs all across the midwest, all across america and whoever wins this race on
advanced battery manufacturing is probably going to win the race to produce the cars of the 21st century. china's investing in it, germany's investing in it, we need to be investing in it as well. >> i want to take a moment and point out the map just behind you. these are tweets coming in in realtime. these are questions being asked right now. it flips between the various categories we've determined and also just general "ask obama" questions. our next question is coming up on the screen now from mick. mr. president, in several states we have seen people lose their collective bargaining rights. do you have a plan to rectify this? >> the first thing i want to emphasize is that collective bargaining is the reason why the vast majority of americans enjoy a minimum wage, enjoy weekends, enjoy overtime. so many things that we take for
granted are because workers came together to bargain with their employers. now, we live in a very competitive society in the 21st century. and that means in the private sector, labor has to take management into account. you know, if labor's making demands that make management broke, and they can't compete, then that doesn't do anybody any good. in the public sector, what is true is that some of the pension plans that have been placed and the health benefits that are in place are so out of proportion with what's happening in the private sector that a lot of taxpayers start feeling resentful. they say, you know, well, if i don't have health care where i only have to pay $1 for prescription drugs, why is it that the person who's salary i'm paying has a better deal? what this means is that all of us will have to make some adjustments. but the principle of collective
bargaining, making sure that people can exercise their rights to be able to join together with other workers and to negotiate and kind of even the bargaining power on either side, that's something that has to be protected. and we can make these adjustments in a way that are equitable, but preserve people's collective bargaining rights. so typically, arguments against the bargaining right have been taking place at the state level. i can speak out forcefully for the principle that weekend, paycheck these adjustments that are necessary during these difficult fiscal times, but do it in a way that preserves collect eve bargain rights, and certainly at the federal level, where i do have influence, i can make sure that we make these adjustments without affecting people's collective bargaining rights. i'll give you just one example. we froze federal pay for federal workers for two years. that wasn't real popular, as you
might imagine, among federal workers. on the other hand, we were able to do that precisely because weapon wanted to prevent layoffs and we wanted to make sure -- we isn't a signal that everybody's going to have to make some sacrifices, including federal workers. by the way, people who work in the white house, they've had their pay frozen since i came in, our high-wage folks. so they haven't had a raise in 2 1/2 years and that's appropriate. because a lot of ordinary folks out there haven't either. in fact, they've seen their pay cut in some cases. >> mr. president, 6% of our questions are coming in about housing, which you can see on the graph behind me. ? this one in particular has to do with personal debt and housing. how wi "how will admin work to help underwater homeowners who aren't behind in payments, but are trapped in homes they can't sell?" >> this is a good question. one of the biggest challenges i've dealt with in the past two
years is to deal with the huge burst of the housing bubble. what's happened is, a lot of folks are underwater, meaning their home values went down so steeply and so rapidly that now their mortgage, the amount they owe, is a lot more than the assessed worth of their home. that burdens a lot of folks. it mean ifs they're selling, they've got to sell at a massive loss that they can't afford. it means that they don't feel that they have any assets, because the single biggest asset of most americans is their home. so what we've been trying to do is work with the issuers of the mortgages, the banks or service companies to convince them to work with homeowners who are paying, trying to do the right thing, trying to stay in their homes, to see if they can modify the loans so that their payments are lower, and in some cases,
maybe even modify their principle, so that they don't feel burdened by these huge debts and feel tempted to walk away from homes that actually they love and where they're raising their families. we've made some progress. through the programs we've set up here, we've probably seen several million home modifications, either directly because we had control of the loan process, or because the private sector followed suit. but it's not enough. and so we're going back to the drawing board, talking to banks, trying to put some pressure on them to work with people who have mortgages to see if we can make further adjustments, modify loans more quickly, and also see if there may be circumstances where reducing principle is appropriate. >> our next question comes from someone you may know. this is speaker boehner.
>> there you go. >> "after embarking on a record spending binge that left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs?" and i want to know that these characters are his fault -- not his fault. >> first of all, john obviously needs to work on his typing skills. well, look, obviously, john's the speaker of the house, he's a republican, so this is a slightly skewed question. but what he's right about is that we have not seen fast enough job growth relative to the need. i mean, we lost, as i said, 4 million jobs before i took office. before i was sworn in. about 4 million jobs were lost
in the few months right after i took office, before our economic policies had the chance to take any effect. and over the last 15 months, we've actually seen 2 million jobs created in the private sector, so we're each month seeing growth in jobs, but when you've got an 8 million job hole and you're only filling it 100,000, 200,000 jobs at a time each month, obviously, that's way too long for a lot of folks who are still out of work. for a couple of things we can continue to do. i worked with speaker boehner to pass a payroll tax cut in september though put an extra thousand dollars in the pockets of almost every single american. that means they're spending
money, that means businesses have more customers, and that has helped improve overall growth. we have provided at least 16 tax cuts to small businesses, who have needed a lot of help and who have been struggling. including, for example, saying zero capital gains taxes on start-ups. because our attitude is, we want to encourage new companies, young entrepreneurs to get out there, start their business without feeling like if they're successful in the first couple of years, that somehow they have to pay taxes as opposed to putting that money back into their business. so we've been able to cooperate with republicans on a range of these issues. there are some areas where the republicans have been more resistant in cooperating, with even though most objective observers believe it's the right thing to do. i'll give you a specific example. it's estimated we have about $2 trillion worth of infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt.
roads, bridges, sewer lines, water mains, our air traffic control system doesn't make sense. we don't have the kind of electric grid that's smart, meaning it doesn't waste a lot of energy in transmission. our broadband system is slower than a lot of other countries. for us to move forward on a major structure snif, where we're putting people to work right now, including construction workers who were disproportionately inemployed when the housing market went bust, to put them to work rebuilding america at a time when contractors are out of work and the need is there, that is something that could make a huge positive impact on the economy overall. and it's an example of making an
investment now that ends up having huge payoffs down the road. we haven't gotten the kind of cooperation i would like to see on some of those ideas and initiatives, but i would like to keep on trying and eventually i'm sure the speaker will see the light. >> speaking of start-ups, there's a ton of questions about small businesses and how they affect job creation. this one comes from nio. "small biz creates jobs. what incentives are you willing to support to improve small business growth?" >> i just mentioned some of the tax breaks that we've provided, not only to small businesses, but in some cases we've provided big businesses. for example, if they're making investments in plants and equipment this year, they can fully right down those costs, essentially depreciate all those costs this year, and that saves them a pretty tax bill.
so we're already initiating a bunch of steps. the biggest challenge i hear from small businesses right now actually has to do with financing. because a lot of small businesseset their financing from community banks. typically, they're not getting them from the big wall street banks, but they're getting them from their various regional banks in their communities. a lot of those banks were pretty overextended in the commercial real estate market, which has been hammered. a lot of them are still digging themselves out of bad loans that they made that were shown to be bad during the recession. and so what we've tried to do is get the small business administration, the federal agency that helps small businesses, to step in and to provide more financing. you know, waiving fees, seeing if we can lower interest rates in some cases, making sure that the threshold for companies that
qualify for loans are more generous, and that's helped a lot of small businesses all across the country. and this is another example of where working with congress, my hope is that we can continue to provide these tax incentives and maybe do even a little bit more. >> our next question was tweeted less than five minutes ago. and comes to us from craig. "my question is, can you give companies a tax break if they hire an honorable discharged veteran?" >> this is something that i've been talking a lot about internally. we've got all these young people coming back from iraq and afghanistan, have made incredible sacrifices, have taken on incredible responsibilities. you see 23-year-old who's leading a platoon in hugely dangerous circumstances, making decisions, operating complex technologies. these are folks who can perform,
but, unfortunately, what we're seeing is that a lot of these young veterans have higher unemployment rate than people who didn't serve. and that makes no sense. so what we would like to do is potentially combine a tax credit for a company that hires veterans with a campaign to have private companies step up and do the right thing and hire more veterans. and one of the things that we've done is internally, in the federal government, we have made a huge emphasis on ramping up our outreach to veterans and hiring veterans, and this has been a. top priority of mine. the notion that they are sacrificing for our freedom and our security and come home and can't find a job, i think, sun acceptable. >> mr. president, age where we
is to extend the bush tax cuts on the wealthy for another two years. in exchange, we were able to get this payroll tax cut that put $1,000 in the pockets of every earn, which would help economic growth and jobs. we were also able to get unemployment insurance extended for the millions of americans who still out of work and whose benefits were about to run out. and that was a much better deal than i think a lot of people expected. it would have been great if we were able to also settle the issue of this debt ceiling at the same time. that wasn't the deal that was available. but here's the more basic point. never in our history has the united states defaulted on its debt. the debt ceiling should not be something that is used as gun
against the heads of the american people to extract tax breaks for corporate jet owners or oil and gas companies that are making billions of dollars because the price of gasoline has gone up so high. i mean, i'm happy to have those debates. i think the american people are on my side on this. what we need to do is to have a balanced approach, where everything's on the table. we need to reduce corporate loopholes, we need to reduce discretionary spending on programs that aren't working. we need to reduce defense spending. everything has -- we need to look at entitlements. and we have to say, how do we protect and preserve medicare and social security for not just this generation, but also future generations, and that's going to require some modifications. even as we maintain its basic structure. so what i'm hoping to see over the next couple of weeks is
people put their dogmas aside, their sacred cows aside, they come together and they say, here's a sensible approach that reduces our deficit, makes sure government's spending within its means, but also continues to make investments in education and clean energy and basic research that are going to preserve our competitive advantage going forward. >> so speaking of taxes, our next question is coming to us from alabama from lane. "what changes to the tax system do you think are necessary to help solve the deficit problem and for the system to be fair?" >> well, i think that first of all, it's important for people to realize that since i've been in office, i've cut taxes for middle class families, repeatedly. the recovery act cut taxes for 95% of working families. the payroll tax cut that we passed in december put an extra
$1,000 in the pockets of every family in america and so we actually now have the lowest tax rates since the 1950s. our tax rates are lower now than they were under ronald reagan, they're lower than they were under george bush senior or george bush junior. they're lower than they were under bill clion. the question is, how do we pay for the things we all think are important, and how do we make sure the tax system is equitable. and what i've said is that in addition to eliminating a whole bunch of corporate loopholes that are just not fair, you know, the notion that corporate jets should get a better deal than commercial jets or the notion that oil and gas companies that made tens of billions of dollars per quarter need an initial break to give them an incentive to go drill for oil, that doesn't make sense.
but what i've also said is that people like me who have been incredibly fortunate, mainly because a lot of folks bought my book, for me to be able to go back to the tax rate that existed under bill clinton, to pay a couple of extra percentage points so that i can make sure that seniors still have medicare or kids still have head start, that makes sense to me. and jack, we haven't talked about this before, but i'm assuming it makes sense to you, given that twitter's done pretty well. i think that for us to say that millionaires and billionaires can go back to the tax rate that existed when bill clinton was president, that doesn't affect middle class families who are having a tough time and haven't seen their incomes go up, it does mean that those who are in the top 1, 2% who have seen their incomes go up much more
quickly than anybody else pays a little bit more in order to make sure that we can make the basic investments that grow this country. that's not an unreasonable position to take. and the vast majority of americans agree with me on that. that doesn't mean that we can just continue spending anything we want. we'll still have to make some tough decisions about defense spending, or even some programs that i like but we may not need. but we can't close the deficit and debt just by cutting things like head start or medicare. that can't been an equitable solution to solving the problem, and then we say to millionaires and billionaires, you don't have to do anything. i don't want a $200,000 tax break if it means that some senior is going to have to pay $6,000 more for their medicare that they don't have. or a bunch of kids are going to be kicked off of head start and aren't going to get, you know,
the basics that they need in order to succeed in our society. i don't think that's good for me and i don't think it's good for the country. >> we have a follow-up question to your answer about homeowners being under water. this came in about ten minutes ago. "obama on homeowners underwater. have made some bog, but need, looking at options." >> keep in mind that most of this is going to be a function of the market slowly improving because people start having more confidence in the economy, more people decide, you know what, the housing market's kind of bottomed out, now's the time to buy, they start buying, that
starts slowing lifting up prices and you get a cycle going on a lot of this will be determined on how well the overall economy does. do people feel more confident about jobs, do they feel more confident they'll be able to make their mortgage. and given the size of the housing problem, no federal government will be able to solve the housing program. most of this is going to be free market. the one thing we can do is to make sure that for homeowners who have been responsible, didn't buy more house than they could afford, had some tough luck because they happened to buy at the top of the market, can afford to continue to pay for that house, can afford their current mortgage, but need some relief, given the drop in value, that we try to match them up with a -- with bankers so that each side ends up winning.
the banker says, you know, i'm going to be better off than if this house is foreclosed upon and i have to sell it at a fire sale. the mortgage owner is able to stay in their home, but still pay, you know, pay what's owed. and i think that that kind of adjustment and negotiation process is tough, it's difficult, partly because a lot of banks these days don't hold mortgages, they were all sold to wall street and were sliced and diced in these complex financial transactions. so sorting through who owns what can be very complicated. and as you know, some of the banks didn't do a very good job on filing some of their papers on these foreclosure actions, so there's been litigation around that. but the bottom line is, we should with able to make some progress on helping some people, understanding that some folks just bought more home than they could afford and probably are going to be better off renting.
>> so 10% of our questions now are about education. and this one surfaced from our curator in california by marcia. "public education here in california is falling apart, not graduating enough skilled workers or smart citizens. privatization looming?" >> look, when america was making a transition from an agricultural society to an industrial society, we as a country made a decision that we were going to have public high schools that would upgrade the skills of young people as they were leaving the farms and start participating in a more complex industrial economy. when my grandfather's generation came back from world war ii. we made a decision that we were going to have a gi build that
would send these young people to college, because we figured that would help advance our economy. every time we've made a public investment in education, it has paid off many times over. for us now to give short shrift to education, when the world's more complex than ever and it's a knowledge-based society and companies locate based on whether they've got skilled workforces or not, that make is no sense. so we've got to get our priorities straight here. it is important for us to have a healthy business climate, to try to keep taxes low, to make sure that we're not spending on things that don't work. it's important that we get a good bang for the buck in education. so my administration has pushed more reform, more vigorously across the country through things like race to the top than
most previous administrations have been able to accomplish. so we don't just need more money, we need more reform. but we do have to pay for good teachers. young, talented people aren't going to go into teaching if they get paid a poverty wage. we have to make sure the buildings aren't crumbling. it's pretty hard for the kids to concentrate if there are leaks and it's cold and there are rats running around in their schools. and that's true in a lot of schools around the country. we have to make sure that there are computers in a computer age inside classrooms, and that they work, and that there's internets -- there are internet connections that actually function. you know, i think that those states that are going to do well and those countries that do well are the ones that will continue to be committed to making education a priority. >> we have another follow-up sent about ten minutes ago in response to your answer on vietnam vets from brendon. "we definitely need to get more vets into jobs, but when are we
going to support the troops by cutting oil dependence?" >> reducing our dependence on oil is good for our economy, good for our security, and it's gad for our planet. so it's a three-fer. and we have not had a serious energy policy for decades. every president talks about it, we don't get it done. now, i would like to see robust legislation in congress that actually took some steps to reduce oil dependency. we're not going to be able to replace overnight. even if we are going full throttle on clean energy solutions like solar and wind and biodiesel, we're going to need oil for some time.
but if we had a goal where we're just reducing our dependence on oil each year in a staggered set of steps, it would save consumers in their pocketbook, it would make our businesses more efficient and less subject to the whims of the spot oil market. it would make us less vulnerable to the kinds of disruptions that have occurred because of what happened in the middle east this spring, and it would drastically cut down on our carbon resources. unfortunately, we have not seen a sense of urgency coming out of congress over the last several months on this issue. most of the rhetoric has been about, let's produce more. well, we can produce more, but we only have 2% to 3% of the world's oil reserves and we use
25% of the world's oil. we can't drill ourselves out of this problem. what we can do that we've already done administratively is increase fuel standards on cars, to take one example. that will save us millions of barrels of oil, just by using existing technologies and saying to car companies, you can do better than 10 miles a gallon or 15 miles a gallon, and you're starting to see detroit respond. u.s. car companies have figured out, you know what, if we produce, you know, high-quality, electric vehicles, if we produce high-quality, low gas mileage -- or high gas mileage vehicles, those will sell. and we're actually starting to see market share increase for american cars the subcompact and come pack cars for the first time in many years. and that's partly because we increased fuel efficiency
standards and as part of the plan to bail out the auto industries, we said, start looking at the cars of the future instead of looking at the gas guzzlers of the past. >> all our questions are coming in realtime, this one less than ten minutes ago. "so you raised taxes on the middle class to at least george w. bush levels?" >> no, what we said is let's make permanent the bush tax cuts for low and moderate income folks, for the 98% of people, who frankly have not seen their wages go up or their incomes go up over the last decade. they don't have a lot of room. they're already struggling to meet the rising cost of health care and education and rising gas prices and food prices.
if all we do is just go back to the pre-bush tax cut rates for the top income brackets, for millionaires and billionaires, that would raise hundreds of billions of dollars, and if you combine it with the cuts we've already proposed, we could solve our deficit and our debt problems. this is not something that requires radical solutions. it requires some smart, common sense, balanced approaches. i think that's what the american people are looking for and that's what i've proposed and that's what i'm going to keep on trying to bring the parties together to agree to. is a balanced approach that has more cuts than revenue, but has some revenue and that revenue should come from the people who can most afford it. >> so a slight deviation from the economy. we have a lot of questions, and this will be our last before we start reading some responses to your question about the space
program. and this one from ron, "now that the space shuttle is gone, where does america stand in space exploration?" >> we are still a leader in space exploration, but, frankly, i have been pushing nasa to revamp its vision. the shuttle did some extraordinary work in low-orbit experiments, the international space station, moving cargo. it was an extraordinary accomplishment. and we're very proud of the work that it did. but now what we need is that next technological breakthrough. we're still using the same models for space travel that we used with the "apollo" program 30, 40 years ago. so what we've said is, rather than keep on doing the same
thing, let's invest in basic research around new technologies that can get us places faster, allow human space flight to last longer, and, you know, what is -- what you're seeing now is nasa, i think, redefining its mission. and we've set a goal to let's ultimately get to mars. a good pit stop is an asteroid. we haven't identified the actual asteroid yet, in case people are wondering. let's start stretching the boundaries so we're not doing the sam things over and over again. but rather, let's start thinking about, what's the next horizon? what's the next frontier out there? a but in order to do that, we'll need some technological breakthroughs that we don't have yet. and what we can do is for some
of this low-orbit stuff, some of the more routine space travel, obviously, no space travel is routine, but it could become more routine over time, let's allow the private sector to get in so that they can, for example, spend these low earth orbit vehicles into space, and we may be able to achieve a point in time where those of you who are just dying to go into space, you know, you can buy a ticket. and a private carrier can potentially take you up there while the government focuses on the big breakthroughs that require much larger investments and involve much greater risk. >> so, mr. president, we received a lot of responses to your question over the last hour, and we wanted to go through seven of them that we picked out and spend some time giving feedback on each. this one from brian, "cut defense contracting, and the war on drugs. eliminate agrbiz and big oil
subsidies, invest in public campaign financing." >> that's not a bad list. the defense contracting is something we're already making progress on. what we've said as to the war on drugs, investing in protection and reducing the demand will be the most cost-effective thing we can do. we still have to enforce our drug laws, but making sure we're spending more on prevention and treatment can make a huge difference. with respect to some of these big agrj business and big oil subsidies, those are examples of the loopholes we can close. and public campaign financing is something i've supported in the past. there is no doubt money has an impact on what happens here in washington. and the more we can reduce money's impact on washington, the better off we're going to be. >> our next response from elizabeth from chicago.
"stop giving money to countries that waste it, pakistan, keep military, share the wealth between branches, and don't cut education." >> i think it's important for people to know that foreign aid can accounts for less than 2% of our budget. if you define it narrowly as the kind of foreign aid to help feed people, and what we think of classically as foreign aid, it's probably closer to 1%. so sometimes people have an exaggerated sense that we spend 25% of the federal budget on foreign aid. it's a tiny amount that has a big exact. and i think america to be a leader in the world, to have influence, to help stabilize countries and create opportunity for people so that they don't breed